Sonoma County’s Unique Tasting Rooms

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When it comes to planning a visit to Sonoma County, the options are seemingly endless—the valley is now home to over 400 wineries (this doesn’t even take into account the multitude of non-wine-related activities). These days, the wineries are as diverse as the varieties of grapes being grown in the county, so for an exceptional and memorable experience, be sure to check out some of these unique tasting experiences during your visit.

1
Wineries / Glen Ellen

Benziger Family Winery

Benziger Family Winery is known for its biodynamic farming practices. Spend some time enjoying the gorgeous grounds by taking a stroll around the fountains and lily pad ponds, or better yet, sign up for the vineyard tour. Unlike the usual tour experiences offered by other wineries, Benziger highlights their eco-friendly farming practices with their Biodynamic Vineyard Tram Tour. This 45-minute, tractor-pulled tour through the vines, fermentation facility, and crush pad includes a tasting of their finished product. Reservations are recommended due to the popularity of the tour, which was voted “Best Winery and Best Tour” in the 2015 Sonoma People’s Choice Awards.

Insider Tip

If you’re traveling with the kids, check out the small playground onsite.

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2
Wineries / Santa Rosa

Matanzas Creek Winery

Matanzas Creek Winery is known as much for their stunning organically farmed lavender fields and gardens, as well as they are for their fabulous wine and rolling vineyards. They specialize in Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Merlot, which are all served at the tasting bar or on the patio. After tasting, wander through the stunning grounds, which include the lavender fields as well as olive groves and a pair of serene ponds. Or, plan to pick up a bottle of wine to include in an onsite picnic lunch. Before heading out, check out the specialty cooking and bath products made from the estate’s lavender: they’re for sale.

Insider Tip

Schedule some time for a game at the bocce ball courts.

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3
Wineries / Healdsburg

Rodney Strong Vineyards

This boutique winery boasts beautiful, modern facilities and sustainable farming practices, so relax on the patio of the outdoor tasting room where you can enjoy the vineyard views and tranquil sounds of their modern water fountain. What really sets Rodney Strong Vineyards apart, however, is their great Summer Music Festival concert series, featuring some big names in music. The concerts are held outdoors and visitors are encouraged to bring blankets and chairs from home so they may sit back and relax.

Insider Tip

The 2016 concert’s info will be announced in April, but just to give you an idea, last year’s performances included Kenny G and Randy Newman.

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4
Wineries / Sonoma

Bartholomew Park Winery

A historic, organically farmed estate located near downtown Sonoma, Bartholomew Park is a lovely, 300-acre piece of land that boasts hiking trails, lawns, and scenic spots for a romantic picnic. Stop by the tasting room for a sip of five limited production current releases, and take note: they make great Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay. For more wine education, peruse the onsite Wine History Museum to learn about the evolution of Wine Country in Sonoma. For those who might be planning a proposal, keep in mind that Bartholomew Park was named the “Best Place to Pop the Question” by the Wall Street Journal.

Insider Tip

Rejuvenate yourself with the winery’s yoga and wine experience, offered on the second Sunday of the month from May through October.

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5
Wineries / Healdsburg

Truett Hurst Winery

At Truett-Hurst Winery, the only thing that might be better than the wines is the scenery. Situated in a beautiful, serene spot along Dry Creek, this biodynamic vineyard is known for its Zinfandel, but other varieties, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Rosé, are produced as well. Sip the latest releases in the striking tasting room (made from green materials like walnut slabs and palm woods) and spend a little time outside: the lush property maintains five acres of farmland and gardens that contain heirloom fruits, vegetables, and olive trees. Expect animal sightings including goats, sheep, ducks, and otters.

Insider Tip

Bring a picnic, buy a bottle, and relax by the creek in one of the quaint red adirondack chairs.

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6
Wineries / Santa Rosa

Paradise Ridge Winery

Modern art lovers will delight in the collection at Paradise Ridge Winery in Santa Rosa. Sculptures are placed throughout the grounds, creating a beautiful outdoor gallery experience that compliments the tastings of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir – all with a stunning backdrop of the Russian River Valley. Include plenty of time to wander through the grounds of the sculpture garden, where some dynamite photo opportunities abound.

Insider Tip

Don’t miss out on the cool art installation that spells out L-O-V-E: it’s a crowd favorite.

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7
Wineries / Sebastopol

Iron Horse Vineyards

For fabulous sparkling wines, sidle on up to the outdoor tasting bar at Iron Horse Vineyards to grab a glass of their White House-approved bubbles. Relax with the other visitors while taking in the view of rolling hillside, and keep an eye on the vibe: the tasting bar quickly begins to feel like an outdoor party during peak times on the weekends. Overall, the setting is rustic and relaxed, contrasting wines that are as elegant as they are refined.

Insider Tip

Ask to try the Wedding Cuvee blend—it’s a fruit-forward concoction that’s sure to please Pinot Noir fans.

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8
Wineries / Geyserville

Francis Ford Coppola Winery

Francis Ford Coppola, famed filmmaker, founded his latest winery in 2007 in the hopes of creating an enticing destination for the whole family, not just those seeking a quick wine tasting. Today, they produce more than 40 distinct bottles, and welcome visitors to one of the most lavish properties in the county. What makes this winery so unique to visit, however, are the amenities: an onsite restaurant crafts incredible food to pair with their wines; there are plenty of opportunities for the kids to run about and have a great time; and there are even two pools with daily cabine rentals (best reserved online, in advance) available, as well as a snack bar. Part winery, part day-resort.

Insider Tip

Movie buffs and Coppola fans should pencil in enough time to check out the film memorabilia on display (ever wanted to see Don Corleone’s desk?).

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